I absolutely LOVE red snapper. In fact, after eating this the other night, Mr. dB stated if he could only eat one fish for the rest of his life, snapper would be it. So go on, make the dish already!Jump to Recipe
This dish holds great nostalgia for me. As a graduate, I was fortunate to take an amazing trip to Thailand with some amazing friends and I pretty much survived on baked or steamed snapper and Phad Thai. So this one really takes me back to being that very lucky teen, sitting in a cafe in Koh Samui, nursing a mojito and my incredible sunburn…!
Tips and Tricks:
If you’re buying your fish from a Hong Kong wet market, a red snapper should go for about HK$50-60 a piece; $70 for a huge fish. Make sure to ask the fishmonger to gut your fish for ease unless you’re into doing it yourself!
Another note on buying from the wet markets, I tend to freeze the fish for 24 hours before cooking. It isn’t essential and won’t kill ALL of the unwanted bacteria on/in a fish, but it’s become a habit and hasn’t let us down so far.
Or if you’re craving more of a Cantonese dish, check out my steamed version here:
Simple, Lemongrass Baked Red Snapper
- Large baking tray
- Kitchen scissors
- Sharp knife
- 2 Whole red snapper (descaled and gutted) Around 500g/piece
- 2 Lemongrass stems
- 2 Shallots, large Or 4 small round ones
- 4 Kaffir lime leaves Substitute lemon leaves or just omit
- 2 Limes, large Or 4 calamansi limes
- 2 inch Galangal, fresh If you can't find this, skip it, you can substitute fresh ginger
- 1 Garlic clove, large
- Vegetable oil Neutral-flavoured, such as sunflower, corn, peanut
- Fresh cilantro (coriander) leaf If you hate this stuff, use flat-leaf parsley as an alternative!
- 1 Banana leaf I steal these from the jungle outside my flat (!) but you can find them at many speciality Asian grocery stores/counters. No need to preheat it as we don't need to wrap this fish.
- White or brown rice, to serve.
- Preheat the oven to 200C. Prepare a large baking tray with a sheet of baking parchment; line that with a rinsed and dried banana leaf if you are using.
Prep. the Fish
- Thoroughly rinse the outside of your fish, checking for any extra scales. Also rinse inside the cavity to ensure it's nice and clean.
- On a chopping board, pat down the outside of the fish and using kitchen scissors, carefully cut off all of the fins, leaving only the tail in tact.
- Decide which side up you're cooking the fish. Using gentle pressure and a sharp knife, make three score marks across that side. Take care not to cut deeply through to the bone, ideally cutting only through the skin itself.
- With kitchen roll or a pastry brush, brush a little oil across the right-side-up of your fish – this will help crisp up that skin, and set the fish aside.
- Remove the ends of the lemongrass stems, discard the outermost, tough leaf or two and slice across the centre to create two shorter stems. Set aside.
- To create long strips, finely slice your shallots, adding half into the prepared baking tray, and set the remaining half aside. Repeat this with the kaffir leaves, if using.
- Slice the limes or calamansis into thin circles, again placing half into the baking tray and half aside.
- Slice the galangal into long, thin strips and set aside. Peel and slice the garlic into thin strips and set aside.
Stuff and Bake!
- Lay both fish onto the prepared baking tray (on top of the shallots and lime slices).
- Taking your remaining sliced herbs, limes and shallots, and gently fill the cavity of each fish with one whole stem of cilantro (you can remove the roots if you prefer!)
- Bake your fish at 200C for 25 minutes. Check to see if the skin is crispy, and the flesh is gently flaky at the score marks. If not quite there, put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
- Dress your crispy fish with some extra fresh coriander stems and serve ASAP! This fish pairs beautifully alongside atop a fresh, fruity curry or as a standalone dish.
We would love to hear what you think of our dish.